Students Staff

Your Tier 4 (General) application

The University of Essex is a licensed Tier 4 Sponsor for Tier 4 (General). We are also a Tier 4 Pilot institution, this means that if you are applying for a Tier 4 visa to study one of our one year Masters courses, you will be able to remain in the UK for an additional 6 months after the course has finished, more information can be found below.

To apply for leave as a Tier 4 (General) student you will need a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from the University. We must ensure you're able to meet all the Home Office requirements to make a successful Tier 4 application, as outlined in the Tier 4 Immigration Rules and Policy Guidance.

We recommend that you start gathering the evidence you need to make your visa application at least three months before you’re going to make your visa application and at least one month before you’ll need to have all your money in place.

As a Tier 4 student you will have many additional responsibilities while you're studying in the UK, so make sure you understand what these are.

Tier 4 eligibility and requirements

Read the UKCISA guidance on Tier 4 eligibility and requirements.

  • CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies)

    To apply for leave as a Tier 4 (General) student you'll need a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from our University. A CAS is an electronic document so you don't have to supply the CAS statement. You shouldn't need any other documents confirming your student status at the University of Essex.


  • ATAS certificate - Essex PhD students

    Some of our PhD students require an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) clearance certificate, depending on your subject. We will let you know if you need one when assessing your eligibility for a CAS.

    If you need to extend your Tier 4 visa to finish your course you will need to obtain a new ATAS first.

    • Further information about an ATAS certificate via the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

  • TB (Tuberculosis) test

    If you're coming to the UK for more than six months and are a resident of any of these listed countries, you are required by the UK government to have a TB test. If your test shows that you don’t have TB, you’ll be given a certificate which is valid for six months from the date of your x-ray. Include this certificate with your UK visa application.

    You shouldn’t need a TB certificate if:

    • you’ve been in the UK for at least six months and are applying to extend your Tier 4 visa from inside the UK
    • you're applying overseas and have lived for at least six months in a country where TB screening isn't required by the UK

  • Your money

    You need to provide evidence that you have enough money available for tuition fees and maintenance (living expenses) as specified in the Tier 4 Policy Guidance.

    Tuition fees

    You’ll need to show that you have enough money to pay the outstanding tuition fees. Payments already made to the University must show on your CAS.

    Living expenses

    The amount you will need to study at our Colchester, Southend or Loughton campus is:

    • £1,015 per calendar month for each month of your course up to a maximum of nine months, maximum is £9,135

    If your course duration includes a part of a month (for example 7 months and 2 weeks), this will be rounded up. You must show you have enough money for 8 months.

    If you have paid for University accommodation, you can deduct up to £1,265 from the total amount you need to have. Your payments must show on your CAS.

    Our Loughton Campus was redefined under the rule changes that came into effect on 10 January 2019 and is no longer considered to be 'London' for Tier 4 maintenance purposes.

    Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) applicants

    If you're applying as a Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme applicant, you only need to show that you have two month's money.

    Using a relative's account

    You can only use your parent(s) or legal guardian(s) account and will need to supply additional evidence as stated on the UKCISA guidance.

    Scholarships

    If you have a scholarship from the University of Essex and this is included on your CAS statement, you don't need to send any further evidence of the scholarship money.

    Financial sponsors

    If you have official financial sponsorship from any other source, you'll need a letter as described in the Tier 4 Policy Guidance. Your sponsor must meet the Home Office definition of an 'official financial sponsor' defined by UKCISA.

    Payments showing on CAS

    If you pay after your CAS is produced or if you believe the amount shown is incorrect, please ask for it to be amended.

  • Documents you need to provide

    You must have all original documents including the qualifications listed on your CAS. The requirements are complex so we recommend you read:

    Any document not in English or Welsh must be accompanied by a translation as described in the Tier 4 Policy Guidance.

    All documents must be submitted unless you are classified as a low-risk national or are a Tier 4 pilot student, in which case slightly different arrangements are in place.

    Low risk nationals (differentiation) and Tier 4 pilot scheme students

    You won't have to supply your financial or qualification documents, including English language, if you're:

    Even though you don’t need to supply your financial or qualification documents initially, you will have to do so within a few days if the Home Office or UKVI ask for them. Therefore, it’s important that you have the original evidence that shows you meet all Tier 4 requirements on the date you submitted your application.

    This only applies to financial and qualification documents, if you are required to supply any other documents you must do so.

  • Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)

    Most students have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge for the whole duration of your Tier 4 visa. You will pay when you make your Tier 4 application. Calculate how much it will be before you apply. Enter the course start and end dates stated on your CAS statement.


  • Credibility interviews

    When you apply for your Tier 4 visa you may be invited to a short credibility interview, which is intended to help satisfy the Home Office that you are a genuine student and that your English language ability is as stated on your CAS.

    If you're applying overseas you will be interviewed by the Home Office in the UK via Skype. If you are applying in the UK you will be required to attend an interview either in person or via Skype depending where your interview is held.

    Further guidance about credibility interviews.

  • Bringing your family to the UK

    Postgraduate students

    You can apply to bring your family if:

    • you're government sponsored and on a full time course that is longer than 6 months
    • studying a full time course of 9 months or longer

    Undergraduate students

    If you're studying below postgraduate level, you will only be able to apply to bring your family if you're government sponsored and on a full time course that is longer than 6 months.

    Further guidance


  • Tier 4 pilot scheme for master's students

    If you are applying for a Tier 4 (General) visa to study an Essex Master’s course of up to 13 months duration you will automatically be applying under the Tier 4 Pilot scheme.

    The Tier 4 Policy Guidance has all further details about the scheme. Open the PDF and search for 'Annex 5: Tier 4 Pilot'.

    Benefits of the scheme

    • When you make your Tier 4 (General) visa application, you won’t be required to provide evidence of your admitting qualification, English language, or financial documents.
    • You will be entitled to remain in the UK for an additional 6 months after the CAS course end date (before the scheme, it was two months).
    • You may receive a faster outcome from the Home Office because in most cases they won’t be checking your qualification(s) and financial documents.

When to apply

You can apply once you have a CAS and are able to meet all the Tier 4 requirements.

  • Applying for a new course

    If you are starting a new course, the earliest you can make your Tier 4 application is 3 (three) months before the course start date stated on your CAS. For example, if your course start date is 1 October on your CAS, you must not apply before 1 July or your application will be refused.

    Make sure your CAS is for the correct course and you're sure this is the course you want to study. It's difficult to change course, including adding a year abroad or work placement year after you have made your Tier 4 application. In some cases you won't be able to because of Tier 4 immigration rules, so make sure you investigate your course fully.

  • Continuing the same course

    You can apply as soon as you have a CAS. Your original course start date must be mentioned in the notes on the CAS. You may not be able to make your application from inside the UK due to the Home Office rules on academic progression.

Making your application

  • You must have your new Essex CAS, you’ll need to refer to your CAS statement and all your supporting documents when you fill in your online application.
  • You can apply up to three months before the course start date on your CAS. For example, if your course start date is 1 October on your CAS, you must not apply before 1 July or your application will be refused.
  • You must be living legally in the country you apply in, you can’t be a visitor.
  • You can’t travel to the UK until your visa sticker is placed in your passport.
  • You can't make a Tier 4 (DES) application overseas.

When you're ready to apply

Apply via the UK Government website. Most students should choose the Tier 4 (General) student visa type. However, if you’re a Chevening or Marshall and Commonwealth scholar there is a separate application form, so make sure you select the correct one.

The application form is intuitive so how you answer each question will then lead to additional questions. Take care when completing it. If you make a simple mistake such as choosing the incorrect gender you can address that when you go to give your biometrics/interview. If you make several mistakes you may have to withdraw your application and apply again.

Useful guidance

Start by reading the UKCISA guidance on making a Tier 4 application overseas.

We’ve produced a flowchart that plots your Tier 4 journey from receiving your Essex CAS to starting your course. We hope that this will be a useful guide to the process.

When to travel to the UK

The Home Office advise against booking any non-refundable travel until your passport containing your entry clearance vignette (visa sticker) has been returned to you.

If you travel to the UK before your Tier 4 entry clearance sticker is placed in your passport you won't be granted entry to the UK and will have to return home. If you're concerned that you will be late please contact us.

If you intend to travel to the UK shortly before your course is due to start we recommend that you include your intended date of travel in your application.

Studying for more than six months

If your course is longer than six months you will be issued with an entry clearance vignette that will be valid for 30 days before the course start date on your CAS or 7 days before the date stated as your intended date of travel in your Tier 4 application, whichever is later.

You must arrive in the UK within the 30 day entry clearance vignette (visa sticker) and register on your course by the Latest Accept Date on your CAS. When you arrive you'll need to collect your BRP from the place you designated.

Studying for up to six months

If your course is up to six months long then you will be issued with an entry clearance vignette that is valid for the whole duration of your course and you won’t need to collect a Biometric Residence Permit in the UK.

You must register on your course by the Latest Accept Date on your CAS.

Your UK address

If you don’t know your UK address yet you can put your campus address, as shown on your CAS statement. Once you're in the UK and know where you will be living, you will need to tell the Home Office.

RQF level for Essex course and previous study

When you complete your application it will ask you for the RQF level of the course you are going to be studying and if applicable, for previous study. RQF has replaced NQF. Your CAS statement and previous qualifications may state NQF, the value is the same so for example, if your CAS or qualification states QCF_NQF 7 you should input RQF7.

Collecting your BRP

If you’re studying for more than six months, you’ll be asked to select the location from which you wish to collect your BRP after you’ve arrived in the UK. The location you should select will depend on which campus you’ll be studying at:

  • Colchester Campus: ACL 2HE557 University of Essex, Colchester
  • Loughton Campus: ACL 2HE557 University of Essex, Colchester (your BRP will be available to collect at our Loughton Campus)
  • Southend Campus: Southend-on-Sea Post Office, SS1 1LL

Further guidance on collecting your BRP.

Not everyone is eligible to apply inside the UK. Read the UKCISA guidance, making a Tier 4 application in the UK.

Starting a new Essex course

You can apply up to three months before the course start date on your CAS and must apply before your current visa expires. In addition, there can’t be more than 28 days between the expiry date of your current visa and the CAS course start date.

Continuing the same Essex course

You can apply as soon as you have a CAS and can meet the requirements. You may have to make your Tier 4 application overseas but our International Services team will let you know when you apply for a CAS.

Guidance when applying

SU Advice provide immigration advice and support about extending a Tier 4 visa in the UK. If you're unsure if you can apply in the UK, please don't make an application without checking with them first. SU Advice have created a video guide to completing the Tier 4 (General) application form. Guidance is also available from UKCISA.

We highly recommend using the SU Advice check and send service. It's more likely you'll receive a refusal if you don't use this service and your application will usually take longer for the Home Office to process.